Monday, 16 March 2015

Sour Cherry Pi(e)

Don't let the title fool you. I'm nowhere near numerate enough to be celebrating Pi day. I'm vaguely certain that it's a Very Useful Thing but couldn't explain why. The more mathematically proficient of the Alpha Bakers (i.e. those bakers who can successfully work out one fifth of a recipe AND the resulting volume required for the baking tin) requested a pie project to mark the day which, in the North American calendar style, is written 3.14.2015. So happy Pi day to those who observe it.

This Sour Cherry Pie is one of Rose's favourites according to the Baking Bible. And one that Rose always baked for her father's birthday so it has a lovely history behind it.

I've never had a cherry pie and generally regard any suggestion that cherries should be cooked as close to sacrilege. This pie uses sour cherries though which are more commonly known in Australia as Morello cherries. They're usually available in jars rather than fresh or frozen although I have no doubt that in the bigger cities it wouldn't be that difficult to source them.

I enjoyed making this pie. It was fairly low stress; with pastry that we've made before for the Black and Blueberry Pie; and an easy cherry filling. It could have been almost mundane if not for the pastry lattice. I found this quite fun to do which is odd because I generally don't have much patience with finicky things. I found the pie to be very tasty, particularly with some cream, but I probably wouldn't rush to make it again.

The pastry is a cream cheese pastry which makes it extra soft and creamy.

I chose the quick and easy food processor method again, but I was less careful about the period of time the ingredients spent in the freezer beforehand. You whiz the flour and cream cheese first to pea size (mine are always small peas) and then the butter (more peas). Finally adding the cream and vinegar to finish. I rather lazily pulsed my pastry until it came together rather than to Rose's recommended large lump stage.

While the pastry was cooling its heels in the fridge I made the cherry filling. I had to use a jar of Morello cherries in syrup rather than fresh or frozen so I slightly adapted the recipe.

Instead of cooking the cherries with sugar, I boiled down the syrup from the jar with a little extra sugar and only a tablespoon of corn flour. As I've said before I prefer a less glutinous pie filling. When the mixture had significantly reduced and looked nicely thick and syrupy I added the cherries and simmered for a minute or so.  Because they were pitted and quite soft from sitting in liquid in the jar I wanted to make sure they didn't disintegrate entirely.

I also fortuitously  found some Cherry Brandy in the cupboard and added a little bit of that in place of the almond essence. For a minute I thought it had made the filling taste like cough mixture but to my relief that flavour dissipated.

The cherry mixture was still fairly liquid when hot but I thought it would thicken up when it cooled down.

Since making the Black and Blueberry Pie, I bought a proper pie dish.  Of course it turned out to be slightly bigger than the recommended size for this pie.  I still used it but the pastry was a little thinner than I would have liked.

After refrigerating the pie bottom for a while, I rolled out the top pastry and cut it into strips with a knife. I really wanted to buy a pastry cutter (or jagger as we learn from the Baking Bible) to make pretty curly pastry strips but I couldn't find one in the few places I had time to look. The pastry was really a bit too thin for the lattice strips, but it was late on Sunday night and I thought I'd just do the best I could.

The pie filling was also a bit minimal for the size of the pie dish. But it was a lovely colour.

I wove my pastry strips into a lattice as instructed, being a little creative to eek out the strips to get full coverage. The pastry was quite elastic (thank you cream cheese) and I had no problem folding the pieces back and forward.  It's always a relief in my humid kitchen when pastry doesn't disintegrate.

I always think pies look at their neatest uncooked. Baking often exposes the flaws in the composition. I enjoyed the lattice and would like to try it again with a smaller pie dish (or more pastry).

The pie turned out quite nicely although I found the shape unusual. Even accounting for the larger pie dish, there was a large proportion of pastry in the crust rather than encasing the filling. I see from pictures of Rose's pies that (thankfully) this is not my own inpromptu creation.

All in all a good learning experience but I need more practice with pastry and perhaps a hotter oven.

Next week is Luxury Oatmeal Cookies.


  1. Very pretty! How lucky to have easy access to jars of Morello cherries. They are such a gorgeous color. You did an excellent lattice for your first time out.

  2. The filling was a beautiful color, I agree. I didn't use sour cherries. Mine were black. The color of the two cherries are slightly different, but equally beautiful in color (in my opinion). There was a lot of crust to filling ratio, but I didn't mind, especially because the crust was so completely delicious. Anyway, your pie looks delicious, even though you weren't jumping up and down.

  3. ב''ה

    I was wondering why the filling seemed sparse. Glad it was not just me. Your pie looks great!

  4. You're right - pie crust is so lovely looking before baking, but I kind of like the look of it after baking too. It's a different animal, entirely. Sorry you weren't thrilled about this one.

    Patricia @ ButterYum

  5. Your pie is pretty! We use the same butter! Isn't Lurpark simply the best? Of all the butters I've used, I think Lurpark is the best. I use Bulla cream.. Is yours Pauls? LOL! I think we get most of our dairy products from Australia...and I have that almond extract too..LOL! I miss visiting Australia, I always like to shop for baking stuff when I'm there... only thing is difficult to carry back like cake stands and all. :)

  6. I also agree that pies always look their best before they are baked. You did a great job!!!

  7. Yes, I have to agree as well.. when I put the filling in the pie I had a doubt in there for a moment, thinking I did not measure correctly, because the ration was off. But everyone love the crust so it even out. Your color was so beautifully red.

  8. You've got a really pretty pie! And like Faithy, I also used Lurpak. Your filling is nice and vibrant, I might try this pie with jarred cherries next time.